Friday 25 January 2019

Enjoining Good and Forbidding Wrong

All religions propagate peace, love, enjoining good and forbidding wrong. But in Islam, it is more than that mere pursuing good or forbidding bad. In fact it is incumbent upon every Muslim to enjoin good and make his/her utmost to prevent wrong.

In the Holy Quran, at nine different places, Muslims have been asked to enjoin good and forbid wrong. In Arabic this is called as:
الأمر بالمَعْرُوف والنَهي عن المُنْكَر
(Amr bil Ma'roof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar)
"You enjoin what is right and forbid what is reprehensible"

That is to say that in the first place every Muslim should strive his/her best to do good and resist from doing what is forbidden by Allah. If every Muslim sticks to good deeds, it will have tranquil effect in the society and others will be attracted towards doing good too, as there will be nothing bad to be seen around them.

Doing good may not raise any eyebrows as it is something that one is doing himself and those not doing good may not be affected by such deeds, if they have no fear of Allah left in them. However, in some conditions, even a righteous person or a person who always enjoins good may pose a difficult situation for those doing otherwise. It is often seen that hardworking employees are seldom liked by dodgers and those shirking their duties to evade handwork and enjoy life as it comes to them without someone comparing them with the good employees. Even under such trying conditions, one must continue to do good no matter what - that is the minimum.

Thus a Muslim must himself be good and encourage others to do good, either through setting personal example or by words of mouth - in Islam this duty is called "Amr bil Ma'roof", which means enjoining the right. The Arabic word Amr means instruct or urge (someone) to do something or to enjoin, while Ma'roof means ‘good, known, well-known, generally recognized, beneficence, approved by Shariah”. So Amr bil Ma’roof means ‘Enjoining the good, the approved” or "ordering for acknowledged virtues".

At the same time, a Muslim must also refrain from violating the laws enunciated in the Holy Qur'an, and the laws of the land and of the state. Besides, he must also refrain from committing sins or acts which have been forbidden by Allah and as explained in the Holy Qur'an and elaborated by the Prophet Muhammad. It will only be then he will be justified to to prevent sins and corruption from the society he lives in. Islam calls this duty "Nahi ‘anil Munkar", which means forbidding the wrong. Munkar, which is the opposite of Ma’roof, which means ‘bad, evil, detestable, disagreeable, abominable, disapproved’. Thus Nahi ‘anil Munkar means ‘Forbidding evil, wrong, the disapproved’.

Thus Amr bil Ma'roof and wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar together form one of the most important and foremost duties of every Muslim. It is in fact the rai·son d’être of the Muslim Ummah.

But the problem arises when it comes to stopping someone who is doing bad things are following a wrong path. Here as A Muslim, we have  have an obligation: To stop wrong being done or forbid its happening.  This is something which is very difficult thing to do but as I said before it is the obligation which has been thrust upon us by the Almighty Allah.

Now here there are three ways a Muslim can stop or forbid the wrong being committed:
  • If he is powerful and have guts to stand before a demagogue, he must stop the wrong be done forcibly. However, he must be perfectly sure that that what he is stopping is really wrong as sometimes apparent wrong may not be so in reality.
  • And if does not find him powerful enough to physically stop someone from doing wrong, he may forbid the wrong doer by tongue. This can be forceful command if one can muster enough courage or even a persuasive tone to convince the wrong doer that he is doing a wrong thing which may not only harm him, but may have a collateral effect in the society as well.
  • And the least one can do is that one must detest the act of wrong doing from his heart, which though is considered to be the sign of the weakest faith.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has quoted to have said by Abu Sa'd al Khudri (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 79): "He who among you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand; and if he has not strength enough to do that, then he should do it with his tongue; and if he has not strength enough to do even that, then he should (at least abhor it) from his heart; and that is the least of faith."

Since forbidding or stopping wrong to take place is a difficult thing, more stress is laid not only on resisting temptations and lust of wrongdoing but also preventing it to happen by others. Those who can do it rise much above the others, the bystanders who cannot muster courage to prevent wrong being done. This is often seen that when two people are fighting or a wicked man is harassing the poor or threatening to give into his demands, most of the people watching these scene do not seem to mustering  enough courage to stop him for fear of personal damage or hurt. But there is always someone who picks up the courage to stop the wrong being committed, though in many situation being personally harmed too.  

It is for such people, that Allah says in Surah Aal `Imran, Chapter 3, verse 110 of the Holy Qur'an:
Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are transgressors.”. 
The verse above clearly states that the earlier people too were asked to to enjoin what was good and forbid what was right, but they did not have faith and became transgressors. As I said before, each religions commands men to be good and stop wrong. But what happens is that while a messenger or prophet is with them or have gone away, the followers continue to observe what Divine message he had brought to them. But after a while, there rises a group of people who start to do what had been forbidden and stop doing what was commanded. This is what has been mentioned in the above quoted verse from the Holy Qur'an. 

The Muslims thus have an obligation on them to enjoin good and forbid wrong so as to be the best people as promised by Allah. The Holy Prophet Muhammad () had therefore stressed: "Never forget practicing "Nahi ‘anil Munkar" otherwise cruel will become your masters and then your prayers will not be accepted by Allah (SWT)." And how true these words have been as we see around us tyrants ruling some of the Muslim countries, usurping upon  the rightful rights of their people and filling up their coffers.

In Surah Al `Imran [Chapter 3 of Holy Qur'an], verse 104 Allah commands:
Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.
This commands clearly means that it is obligatory for every Muslim to confront what is wrong and stop it. So unless, righteous Muslims rise to save them and the society from the wrong being done to them, their conditions can never improve. 

Talking of Amr bil Ma'roof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar in the prevalent environment, besides people of other faith, Muslims too have joined the practices that are tangent to teachings of Islam. All innovations (bid'at) and false social practices continue under social pressures. Bribery, backbiting, corruption, indecency, and dishonesty flourish under social approval. It is frightening to see how our real life matches the description given for the hypocrites. 
“The hypocrite men and hypocrite women are of one another. They enjoin what is wrong and forbid what is right and close their hands. They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them [accordingly]. Indeed, the hypocrites – it is they who are the defiantly disobedient”. (Surah At-Tawbah 9:67)
And it has literally become impossible to propagate Amr bil Ma'roof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar. Under the influence of wave of freedom, if someone is asked to do good or someone is stopped from doing a wrong, one often comes across the notion: "This is my life, leave me alone." Even Muslim women who disregard the Islamic teachings of attire, are adamant to change for it is their life.

Nevertheless, despite all objections and barriers, propagation of Amr bil Ma'roof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar remains foremost duty of every Muslim and we have to take a start from within us - a family where the head of the family not only exhibits a righteous behaviour which should serve as a role model for his family, bu also caution them from doing wrong, while himself committing any wrong deed.  This gives a birth to a righteous family and as every family grows, the society becomes clean of wrong doings and prosperous in doing good. The chain reaction thus should not stop, and a Muslim society is born of "best people" as envisioned by Allah Almighty.  

I hope this post leaves a positive impression on my readers to take up their scared duty to reform their rest of their lives to enjoin good and forbid wrong. Remember, in a world of moral relativism these permanent values are the hope for the whole mankind.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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